Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra - Direct from the Shire

Releasing new albums without a record label is an expensive game... Donate to the creation of more fine music here.


Top  Upcoming Gigs
October 4th Thu
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Nottingham University
October 5th Fri
7:30pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Songs from the Curate`s Lounge, Long Buckby
2019 May 18th Sat
8:00pm - 10:30pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Glenbuchat Hall, Strathdon

Top  ...and the now green grass, buffeted by westlin’ winds,

Looking out at choppy waves churning at the cliff-bottoms as cotton-wool clouds cast their shadows across the olive green waters of Margate Bay, and the now green grass, buffeted by westlin’ winds, wriggles and shimmers in the low sun, it seems this fine summer is finally slipping away.

Since the end of the ever-delightful Small World Festival, fresh off the back of Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, I’ve suffered the inevitable total physical collapse which tends to accompany the end of a festival season. All of the hitherto resisted lurgies conspire to pounce on unsuspecting musicians who in turn take them back to their respective corners of the world to test immune systems anew. So I’ve been convalescing, learning songs (even writing songs, which is a rare treat) and practicing the guitar as much as I normally drive. How refreshing a break from the M25 can be.

Next weekend we’ll be heading to the west country for Priston Festival (perhaps the only free festival with a top-notch, professional line-up that remains in the UK), just south-west of Bath, run beautifully on and around the village green by our dear friends Owain and Sue. If you’re anywhere nearby, it is so worth a visit. There are five ticketed events in the Church and Village Hall which are essential for funding the whole endeavour, so if you’re local, or have local friends, and like a bit of fine music, get your tickets while there are still a few left and help to keep this show on the road (or the green, as the case may be).

This year they’ve got everything from the astonishing Kitty MacFarlane and Radio 2 Folk Award-Winner, Sam Carter to De Fuego’s flamenco magic, Solana’s celtic beats and Turkish alt-pop sensation Djanan Turan on the village green, Reg Meuross and The Fantasy Orchestra in the Church, and a whole smorgasbord of other acts on the chill-stage, with poetry, storytelling and kids activities galore. Come and join us, bring your aunt, bring your friends, bring the whole kids.

If of course you are indisposed on Saturday September 15th but would like to catch some Djukella Music while we’re out west, we’ll be joined by the inimitable song-smith and luthier, Nathan Ball for at show at The Hawthorns Hotel in Glastonbury on Thursday 13th, and we’ll be joined by the delightful Emma Pickerill at The Barton Inn, Barton St David on Friday 14th for an early show at 7pm. After Priston we’ll be heading to Bristol to join the fun at The Star in Fishponds for their “From Delhi to Dublin” afternoon, featuring Bhangra beats and celtic treats from Firepit Collective and Inu among many others. On Monday 17th we’ll be in Bath, back at The Bell, the best community-owned music pub in the west, with the original Djukella line-up (sadly sans the marvellous, mellifluous Jordan Kostov, who is in China right now, and unfortunately the wages don’t quite cover the air-fare).

If you’re anywhere nearby any of these gigs, come and join us. We have things to tell you.

Endless thanks to all the people who made Purbeck Valley Folk Fest such a delight this year, (rogue security guards notwithstanding). Firstly to my incredible Djukella Orchestra, and all the fine musicians who blew my mind over the weekend; Emma Pickerill, Jen and Laura Beth, The Carravick Sisters, Richard Thompson himself, and his majestic and oh-so-humble drummer Michael Jerome, TEYR, whose set on the Long Barn was pure magic, and too many others to list, to Paul, Catherine and the whole production/volunteer team for all their work, and to Anelise for looking after us on the last day. It’s been years since they first asked us to play, but we finally got it all organised, and I was honoured to stand in the footprints of Richard Thompson and share some fine Djukella music with a full house (or rather cattle-shed).

We were blessed on the Saturday with a last minute extra gig, when the Corn Potato String Band were stuck fast in the Purbeck bottleneck and unable to make their first show, and Nye and I just happened to be on hand, so I was golf-buggied across the site by one of the duracel-powered site-crew to get my instruments, then lickety-split to the Fire Stage, where the marvellous Steve and Steve had us up and running in no time and we improvised a fine little set. The great blessing was that this slot was immediately before the children’s fancy-dress competition so we had an entirely full hillside of folks, who gradually realised that we were not The Corn Potato String Band, but didn’t seem to mind. My only setlist was that I didn’t want to play anything we were planning to play with the full-fat Djukella Orchestra on the Main Stage the following day, so I just winged it, and what came out was mostly fairly transgressive and political songs, with the odd bit of flash harmonica playing thrown in for good measure, and it all went down a treat.

For the last song, Nye said on the mic, “Do you do requests?” in his gravelly tones to much mirth from the audience and mutterings of “Freebird”, and “Do you know any Oasis?” (they may have just been in my own head, can’t be sure). I asked what he wanted and he said (off-mic) “Sights and Sounds of London Town”, an early-90s Richard Thompson classic, which is about as transgressive as requests get (even before you encounter the lyrics), as Richard Thompson was the grand headliner that night, and was very likely on site. I mentioned the nature of the request to the audience and shouted “Sorry Richard!”, and for a moment, I saw myriad folky eyes freeze is fear, as everyone thought I was about to sing Beeswing, (which he is very likely contractually obliged to play every night for fear of a riot), but as we launched into the bluegrass clip of the song I felt them all unclench and join us for some brutal post-modern character sketches with a fancy ending; an updated “Streets of London, if you will… If you’ve yet to hear the song, seek it out, or if your lazier, wait until I finally put it on an album one of these days.

The end result of this marvellously unexpected show, was that we packed the big barn for our Hangover Set (2pm Sunday) the next day, with folks who really seemed to want to listen. Thanks to James Gavin, Tommie Black-Roff, Dominic Henderson and the Master of Space and Time himself for being the best band a man could wish for.

Our orchestra
is the cat`s nuts—

Banjo jazz
with a nickelplated

amplifier to

the savage beast—
Get the rhythm

That sheet stuff
`s a lot a cheese.

gimme the key

and lemme loose—
I make `em crazy

with my harmonies—
Shoot it Jimmy

Nobody else

but me—
They can`t copy it

(William Carlos Williams - 1922)

Posted: 7th Sep 2018 | Contact